The Carr Vale Disasters and the New Memorial.
In December 1910 and again in October 1923 Carr Vale was at the centre of two accidents involving children on the level crossing outside the now New Bolsover Social club. The articles are reports from the Derbyshire Times and graphically describe the accidents and the aftermath. The articles are from two books which record the local incidents from the Derbyshire times and Derbyshire Courier From the middle of the 19th century to the middle of the 20th century painstakingly written by Mr. &. Mrs. Jackson of the North Wingfield Local History Group.
The following graphic report tells the story of human tragedy on the local railway.
Derbyshire Times 31st December 1910.
Mr.John West a miner from New Bolsover saw the accident which occurred at about 5-15 p-rn. on Saturday afternoon. He was standing talking to his nephew outside the wicket gate on the Bolsover side of the crossing. He saw the passenger train cone in and noticed 15 or 20 children against the wicket gate. The noise and bustle caused by the detraining of the passengers had hardly begun before the youngsters trooped onto the crossing- They were oblivious of danger and not even the noisy approach of a Great Northern empty coat train and the long shrill whistle of the engine caused than to arrest their footsteps or to flee from the hideous death that was rushing upon than- A moment later the engine dashed into the group of heedless children and the spot which had been occupied a moment before by little folk ravelling in health and innocent excitement was strewn with the mangled remains of the dead and the bodies of the injured. The grim instrument of death passed on its way , the driver being quite unaware that anything out of the ordinary had happened. I turned around to bury my face in my hands and shut out the awful site and uttered the exclamation "Oh God". I did not know that but some of my children were amongst them. Mr. West said I think all the children were excited and were hurrying home to tell their parents of the delight of the cinematographic entertainment. I rushed onto the crossing and took the boy Buxton into my arms and hurried to the platform and at the same time shouted for someone to telephone for medical assistance. whilst the bodies were lying about it was a relief to me to be informed by someone who had alighted onto the platform from the passenger train that Dr. Spencer was on the platform. I never want to witness so ghastly a spectacle again I have seen men injured in the mines but the sight did not compare with the fearful scenes of which I was an eye witness.
The direction in which the train was coming there is a curve, the curve is such that if you were standing at the wicker gate on the Carr Vale side of the crossing you would not see an approaching train until it arrived into the station because of the buildings The children would not be able to see the train until it was a few yards away from them and it had passed the footbridge.
Killed: Mary Margaret Bacon 9, Joseph Bacon 10, George Alfred Boot 8.
Injured: Arthur Yates 9, Ethel Kemp 7, John James Buxton 11.
Arthur the sole surviving son of Mr. & Mrs. J.T.Bacon prattled simply about the accident which has robbed him of a brother and sister, "yes I did like the show" as he lovingly held the gifts which Santa Claus had brought him. I wanted to go home with our Dolly and Joe but two boys did like this, (standing with his arms outstretched) and would not let me. The little smiling face of six was spared the knowledge that the conduct of his two tormentors had in all probability saved him.
Edwin Buxton the 7 year old brother of the injured John James Buxton lingered by the way after leaving the Central hall- John hurried forward and was cut down.
"I saw the train come along" said Ivy Kemp who was one or the group of children standing near the crossing gate and whose younger sister was frightfully injured "Did you see the train knock the children down"? "I was at the back" she said.
In June 1909 an old man named Breedon was killed on the crossing, It was curious fact that this man had previously been engaged watching the crossing and looking after the safety of the children who crossed it daily on their way to school.
Census of traffic crossing. 8.30a.m. on Jan. 20th until 8.30.a.m. 22nd Jan. l910.
First 24 hours. 5804 pedestrians and 187 vehicles.
Second 24 hours. 7214 pedestrians and 239 vehicles.
Dr. Spencer's report.
I was on the platform awaiting the arrival of some friends. I spoke to the Station Master with reference to a parcel which should have come by the train. during our conversation I noticed a ticket collector approach from the direction of the level crossing and spoke to the Station Master who flushed deeply and then turned pale. The Station Master gave the instruction in an alarmed tone to block the line both ways. I lingered awhile and saw a man named John West approaching from the level crossing and carrying in his arms a child. As he reached me he said "Dr. Spencer there has been an awful accident and a lot of children have been mowed down by a goods train. The room next to the booking hall was selected as suitable for examining the child Mr. West was carrying. The child was placed nn the table and a porters jacket was used as a pillow. A girl was brought in and identified as Margaret Bacon, she was alive but suffering from appalling injuries. I did all I could to stop the bleeding but I new death was inevitable. I rushed to Mr. J.T. Weston's and telephoned for my emergency case. I next telephoned Dr. Schoolered and Dr. Saville for assistance. An Instruction was given for an engine to be held in readiness to carry to Chesterfield those who were injured. Ethel Kemp was brought into the room with a badly fractured leg which I decided to put into position as quickly as possible. Mr. A.R. Davis who carried the girl in told me there had been an inquiry for splints and bandages and had been told there was none to be had at the station. A parasol probably left luggage was found in the waiting room and on my suggestion Mr. Davis broke it in two parts and was used temporarily for splints, for bandages we used pocket handkerchiefs.
At the Carr Vale Hall on Saturday afternoon a number of children attempted to witness a cinematograph entertainment. The laughter rang through the building and their cries of joy at the scenes presented to their admiring gaze penetrated into the streets and caused a lady passing to observe to her friend hew happy the children are.
A letter from Mr. Hunter Clerk to the Bolsover Urban council stated that they considered that while it would be a distinct advantage to move the bridge from the east to the west end of the platform the difficulty with regards to the vehicular traffic would still remain. The Council strongly urged the desirability of closing the gates against the railway as was done on other crossings. Mr. Ball replied we are obliged to do so by Statute one of the clauses of the Regulations of the Railway Act 1842 states "whereas experience has shown it is more conducive to safety that such gates should be half closed across the turnpike or the road instead of the railway"-
January 7th 1911,
Solved. Carr Vale danger to be removed, The problem of the Carr Vale death trap has been solved and it only remains for the Bolsover Urban District Council and the Railway Co. to carry out the construction of the subway for foot passengers with the utmost despatch. When this is done the wicket gate will be removed and pedestrians will not use the crossing at all.
All Bolsover seemed to be in mourning when the funerals of the little victims took place. The remains of Mary Margaret Bacon and those of her brother Joseph William Bacon were interned on Tuesday afternoon. The coffins were of pitch pine with brass furniture. An unfortunate incident occurred to mar the beauty of the ceremony when the graves were found to be to small to contain the bodies and the mourners were compelled to stand around whilst the cavities were enlarged with a spade. The grave was still to small and needed further enlarging so a hymn was sung to the accompaniment of the spade striking the frozen earth.
Similar impressive scenes were witnessed when the remains George Alfred Boot were laid to rest on Wednesday afternoon. A bitterly cold wind was blowing but this did not deter a crowd of sympathisers.
Derbyshire Times 27th. October 1923.
A sad fatality Involving the life of one little boy and serious injuries to another occurred on Wednesday afternoon at the Carr Vale level crossing on the Lincoln to Chesterfield branch of the L. and N. E. railway. The tragic affair happened about 4-25.p.rn. when the children attending the colliery schools at the New Bolsover infant school were returning home to Carr Vale which lies on the west side of the crossing. It is alleged that the boys ware playing on the railway at the time and having waited on the embankment for the passing of a goods train coming from Chesterfield, rushed across to the other side when they were knocked dawn by a ballast train coming in the opposite direction, the approach of which they failed to notice. Herbert Hayes aged 8 son of Arthur Hayes of Scarsdale Street Carr Vale was killed outright his body being mangled beyond recognition, his companion Leonard Platts aged 8 son of Arthur Platts an engineer at the Bolsover brickworks also of Scarsdale Street who was knocked down by the engine into the six foot and sustained serious injuries. The driver of the ballast train was unaware of the tragedy, continued on his journey. Three of Herbert Hayes schoolmates had been standing at the gate on the Carr Vale side quite unconscious of the terrible disaster that was impending. Assistance was immediately forthcoming and the body was removed to a room on the station platform where Mr. J.L. Cox Superintendent of the Bolsover Ambulance Division, Mr. M. Stubbings, Mr. R.Marklew and Mr. F. Marklew and P.C.Goodall prepared the body for removal to the boys home. Platts was placed in a motor car which was standing at the gates and taken to the surgery of Dr. W. Stratton and afterwards to the Chesterfield Hospital. The railway is an important artery of communication with the main line and over it thousands of tons of mineral traffic pass daily to the East coast ports and other line centres.
Enquires made by our representative on the spot showed that the deceased and his companion were on there way hone from school and on reaching the crossing found the gate which locks automatically when a train is signalled fastened. Instead of using the subway they climbed the fence and got onto the railway. A coal train from the direction of Chesterfield was due to pass at the time and immediately it had cleared the crossing the boys had rushed across the metals and ran into the ballast train coming in the other direction from Scarcliffe.
Mr. Haddock the esteemed headmaster of the colliery school stated that they had been warned time and time again and in fact it is not a fortnight ago since I spoke to then and the Station Master threatened them. Mr. Haddock also mentioned a practice resorted to by drivers or motor vehicles which served as a great temptation to boys to congregate near the crossing as the drivers invariably gave the boys a penny to open the gates to save themselves the trouble of alighting. Three little boys who were eye witnesses to the terrible accident were Harold Bell, George Sudbury, and William Challenger all of Carr Vale. They had passed through the subway and were attracted to the crossing gate on the Carr Vale side by seeing the two boys on the line. Harold Bell said we saw Herbert and Leonard in the middle of the railway, they had climbed over the fence near to Mr. Richardson's shop. There was a goods train coming out of the tunnel from Scarcliffe and another one from Chesterfield. The boys were running backwards and forwards over the lines as if they were playing. They ran across as soon as the train from Chesterfield had passed and rushed into the train from Scarcliffe. George Sudbury said I saw both trains and the two boys were on the bank a little below the crossing waiting for the Chesterfield train to pass. When it had gone they rushed across and were knocked down by the other train. William Challenger corroborated he story told by his companions in that Hays rushed across the line first and was killed and Platts was knocked into the six foot. It was still the practice for children to cross the line when the gates were open.
I personally do not think it would be possible to tell this story any better than the reporters of the day have told it and so I have left it as it was told in the Derbyshire Times. (A.N.B.).
The Carr Vale Community Association Unveil their Memorial.
Mr. Stray. Mr. Meades & Mr. Clarke.
The Memorial, the Station House and the Jam Factory.
Some of the hard working Community Association members.